The Gamebag

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Talking Point: Nintendo Follows Up on Their Strange eMail

Since posting, the strange eMail we got from Nintendo prompted controversy, so we decided to get to the bottom of why we got something like that. Our response from Nintendo was this:

Hello,
Thank you for contacting Nintendo. I’m happy to address your concerns regarding that response and the Wii’s Virtual Console service. Let me give you the real answer about the Virtual Console first.

Each week we make available a mix of Virtual Console, WiiWare, and DSiWare games. Combined, these services currently provide gamers with hundreds of fun and interesting downloadable games to choose from. There is no preset schedule as to how many games will become available in a given week, but I can assure you that many more Virtual Console, WiiWare, and Nintendo DSiWare games are on the way!

As for the response, I have no idea where it came from. You already noted that there’s a lot of short-hand and as we are writing official email for a business, we don’t do things like capitalize “NO” or any other words. We also sign all of our email as they are all answered by real people.
Sincerely,
R.M. Ricketts
Nintendo of America Inc.

So this representative says that because of their llittle mix up method, we did not recieve Virtual Console games for two whole weeks. So either someone was doing a lousy job, or we got an incredibly dim representative.

August 1, 2009 Posted by | Talking Points | , | 1 Comment

Interview: Nnooo

We at the gamebag recently conducted an interview with Nic Watt, the creative director at Nnooo, asking about their latest entry and what’s more to come.

To begin with, thank you for taking your time to do this interview with me, first, could you tell us a little about your history?
Sure. I personally have worked in the games industry for over 10
years now and prior to starting Nnooo I was a lead designer at EA in
London. When my partner was asked to move to Australia we jumped at
the chance and so I made the tough decision to leave EA and to set up
my own games company.

Our first product Pop was a launch title for WiiWare in North America
and since then has been launched in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and
Japan. We have also launched it on the iPhone and are now very, very
close to releasing Pop+ Solo for DSiWare.
To your recently finished project Pop+ Solo, could you tell us a bit about how it improves from its predecessors?
Pop+ Solo has lots of new content as well as some minor tweaks to
balancing which make it, we think, the best version of Pop yet! We
have added a whole load of new modes and bonus rounds to bring the
total number of modes up to 8 and bonus rounds to 4.

These are: Adventure mode complete with mines, jets, gold fish and
boss battles; Challenge mode where you can practice a particular wave
and/or set yourself a score and time to beat; Timed mode with 1, 2 or
5 minute challenges; and Bonus Mode where you can play your favourite
bonus rounds in 3, 5 or 10 rounds of difficulty.
Why did you choose the boss battles you did?
We wanted the boss battles to reflect the underwater nature of the
game and felt that a Shark, Starfish and Squid best matched that
philosophy. They all use similar mechanics in that you have to pop
bubbles initially to build up your timer and then attack the boss by
tapping on it. Each one however has slightly different attacks and so
forth.

Another reason we added them was to broaden the appeal of the game.
We felt that a lot of people were writing Pop off as just 'that bubble
popping game' without giving it a chance and realising the depth to
the gameplay. By adding bosses we hope that more people will consider
its charms and give it a go!
Moving onto your next project, Pop+ Versus, are you holding off on working further until Pop+ Solo's results come in?
Unfortunately yes. We have a lot of the groundwork done however as a
small developer we need to be careful where we spend our money. If
Pop+ Solo is a success we plan to start Pop+ Versus in the next month
or so.
Will Pop+ Versus be a multiplayer exclusive game, or will it feature single player also?
It will be primarily a multiplayer exclusive game. However anyone who
owns Pop+ Solo will, we hope, be able to make use of all the single
player modes they have unlocked in Pop+ Solo. By this we mean that if
you own both and start Versus then all the multiplayer and single
player modes will be available to you whereas if you only own Versus
then just the multiplayer content will be available.

We are looking at Versus having both WiFi, Local and Download play
however we cannot confirm this yet as we have to investigate both.
Download play would enable you to play against friends who own an
original DS, a DS Lite and/or a DSi!
Onto the just announced myNotebook, what was your inspiration for that concept?
I have an iPhone as well as a DSi and i get really frustrated by the
Notes app on the iPhone as I have to use a keyboard. I decided that
using a stylus to take notes would be so much faster and much more
useful so I thought we'd give it a shot!
If the need arises, will you distribute more notebook colours?
Yes. We have designed the application so that we can easily create
new colour versions as necessary. Although we do not want to flood the
market too quickly and put people off!
Finally, since myNotebook is in the myLifeCollected series you announced, what other DSi functions would you touch upon while developing these applications?
Unfortunately you will have to wait and see! We have some great plans
so watch this space!
Again, thank you for taking your time to do this interview with us, do you have anything else you'd like to say?
Thanks to you interviewing us and we hope your readers find what we
have to say interesting! We also hope you are looking forward to both
Pop+ Solo and myNotebook coming to DSiWare very soon.
-Nic Watt
Creative Director
We'd like to thank Nnooo for taking time out of their busy schedule to interview us at the Gamebag. I'd also like to thank Jorge for getting it up for me! Nic Watt was speaking to Seth.

July 27, 2009 Posted by | Interviews | 1 Comment

Talking Point: eMail response from Nintendo of America

I recently asked Nintendo of America support about their lack of updates on Channels and VC, and this is what I got:

“Dear Jorge,
We understand your concern about the lack of service on the VC as of late. Due to sales numbers being far greater recently on Wiiware than on Virtual Console, we have decided to steer in the direction of WiiWare.
Also, we in America have NO plans to update the Internet Channel or the Nintendo Channel. We hope you understand”
From

Wow.

July 25, 2009 Posted by | Talking Points | | 20 Comments

Review: My Pokémon Ranch

For today’s review, I’m featuring the 1000 point game, My Pokemon Ranch. This is a second party title published by Nintendo which works as a storage method of your pokemon captured in the games Pokemon Diamond Version, Pokemon Pearl Version, and most recently, Pokemon Platinum Version. When you first start up the game, a confirmation screen will show the time and date saved on your Wii Console, and ask if it’s the correct time. After that, you’ll be greeted by the main character of the game, she’ll go into a little ramble then transport you to the ranch. She’ll introduce how it works, and then you’re thrown into the gameplay.
Every day the game will go through a routine. The Ranch Hand will go though dialogue, show that she’s brought pokemon. Add them to the ranch, and then youll just be set to observe, that’s what you’ll be doing, observing the antics of what pokemon will interact with. Admittingly, it does have charm to see how the pokemon will act when you mess around like with the toys that are provided everyday, when idle, what formations they’ll perform and so on. But it gets stale within a matter of minutes and then you’ll want to leave. The ranchn hand will go through more dialogue, ask if the type of pokemon she wants to bring to the ranch is acceptable, then you leave.
The game’s true “use,” comes in the form of being able to transfer your pokemon from Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and/or Platinum. The game attempts to keep you coming back by limiting your initial space, which is 20 pokemon. The ranch will expand once you reach a certain number of pokemon within the ranch. The ranch supports up to 8 different game carts, which seems nice at first but the limitations which were set will put you off. You may not switch ownership of the pokemon between game carts. If you restart your game on one cart, the pokemon within the ranch CANNOT be recovered. You cannnot train or level the pokemon in any way whatsoever. That actually renders the game useless as a storage mechanism because ownership is not interchangable.
The game offers a wide array of features which are a bit irrelevant. First, if you are to connect your Nintendo DS to the game, your pokedex will be checked, and the ranch hand will ask you to capture specific pokemon within a week. The game also supports Miis which will act much like the pokemon. Pictures can be taken within the game and sent to the Wii Message Board or an SD Card. If any of your Wii Console friends own the game also, and WiiConnect24 us active, you will be asked to come visit their ranch and see what pokemon they’ve stored there. To top it all off the art style is grotesque and the pokemon resemble their 2D forms only slightly.

Conclusion:
My Pokemon Ranch is a game with a lot of potential, but is quickly thrown out, with limited connectivity and functionality, although it has charm, it does little to redeem itself in the slightest.

Scores:
Value: 500/1000 Wii Points
Recommendation: Not Recommended
Score: 3/10

July 25, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Wii Music

Ah, yes. Wii Music. I remember it well. E3 2008, they say that there’s something ELSE, they’d like to show. Everyone holds their breath, hoping for a Metroid, or Zelda game. Smoke fills the room. What do they show? A drummer, looking like an idiot, making ear-splittingly bad music on a virtual drum set. They then introduce it as Wii Music. For what they just showed, I could EASILY assume it was all about drums. Then, Miyamoto comes out and makes the game look a LITTLE better, and then they ruin the whole thing by showing people wave the Wiimotes around like morons, and bad notes play. They even missed parts entirely! Talk about a misleading first impression.

Wii Music is not like Guitar Hero, or Rock Band, it’s ‘competitors’. Its goal is simple: let everyone have fun while appreciating music. It achieves this goal well, but 70% is too hard, and 10% is too easy. Only about 20% is just right. Now, there are 60+ instruments to choose from, and 50 songs to choose from. Only 7 are Nintendo, however. About 10 attempt to be ‘pop’ music, but fail, but you can skip any song you don’t like, which is a nice touch. Also, there are some great classics, like Troika, Scarborough Fair, and A Little Night Music, which are fantastic.

Controls for the instruments are in a couple categories: Piano/drum, where you just bang around, Wind, which you alternate the 1 and 2 buttons, the Violin and Cello, where you pretend you are playing them while alternating the C and Z buttons on the Nunchuck, and then there’s other, which usually involve waggle. My favorite is the Violin/Cello, as it’s the most elaborate for the main game.

Outside of the main game, you have videos, which are a rather…lackluster feature, but it has it’s uses, namely WiFi. It also has lessons, which you won’t find yourself using very often, some minigames, which are fun, but repetitive, and lastly, the Drum Mode. The drum mode is ridiculously hard, and I could go into a whole review of that SEPERATELY, but I won’t, so in the interest of time, I’ll just say this: It’s TOO hard!

CONCLUSION:

Now, overall, in Wii Music, you get a very mixed package. From the box, it looks like something that Hardcore gamers would NEVER like, but on the inside, it gives the right amount of challenge for ANYONE to make good sounding music! (Especially that damned drum mode…) and the music sounds great for a Wii Game, too!

Score: 7.5/10

$45/$50 retail

Recommended

July 21, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | 1 Comment

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